How did we get
here? Genesis 1:1-1:31
A Brief Guide to Life, the Universe and Everything.
It is four in the morning, the lights are low, a woman is sitting up in bed, wide awake, breathing loud and rhythmically, the pain that began hours earlier, is coming now in ever increasing waves, her husband sitting anxiously beside her, is feeling helpless and redundant, holding her hand, praying it will soon be over. The midwives, monitoring heart beat and blood pressure, are ready. Another baby is about to be born into the world. And then the miracle occurs, before our very eyes, first the head and then the body then all is quiet and still, then that first breath is taken, there is a wimper as the lungs react to air, then a little cry, a hand moves now free and an eye opens on a waiting still sleeping world. Common it may be but no less incredible. Four times I have had such an epiphany. Four times in the clinical sorroundings of a maternity clinic, I have felt the awesome, sacred, holy, presence of God. As I took each new born child into my arms, as I looked into their face for the first time, I wondered at an awesome God at work, and worshipped him. At work creating a new, unique, precious, individual. God of the natural and the supernatural, mysteriously, harmoniously, at work in creation.
Tonight we begin a new series of studies in what are among the most important 12 chapters of the Bible.
In Genesis 1-12 we will discover the origins of, the explanation for and the foundation of everything we hold dear. In Genesis 1-12 we find answers to all the major questions. Where did life come from? How did it originate? Who am I? What am I here for? Why is the world the way it is? Where does evil come from? Why are men and women different? Why is communication so difficult? How should we relate to one another? The source of marriage? The purpose of work? The origin of language? The answers to life.
questions and more are answered in Genesis 1-12. Remove these chapters from the
Bible or discredit them and our questions remain unanswered. The rest of the
Bible presupposes them, relies on them. Over the next 3 months up to Christmas,
we are going to seek and find answers to life’s most important questions in
this brief guide to life, the universe and everything.
One caveat - we are not going to get sidetracked by the old chestnut of the bible verses science. The debate is not between religion and science. Its between scientists and scientists. Between those scientists who have demonstrated objectively and conclusively that life is inexplicable without the existence of an infinite personal creator God and those scientists who cannot cope with the evidence. If you forget everything else - remember this one thing. Science is pretty good at answering the question “How?” The Bible primarily answers the question “Why?” Move beyond the “How?” and science becomes a religion. Try and use the Bible as a contemporary scientific textbook and you will enjoy endless debate and futile speculation.
At university as an undergraduate I studied geography and geology. In my first year I started out an evolutionist. In my second year I became a theistic evolutionist and by my third year I had become a creationist, because, at least for me, the evidence was overwhelming.
If you want explore this further I’d recommend Lee Strobel’s “The Case for a Creator”. Its the best book I have come across on the subject showing conclusively how science corroborates what the Bible assumes. Tonight we begin at the beginning and Genesis chapter 1. The subject of this chapter is God himself. He is mentioned 35 times - creating, hovering, speaking, seeing, naming, evaluating, reflecting, initiating, blessing, resting. He is the subject of all the action. The whole of chapter 1 could be summarised by the first five words, “in the beginning God created…”
I’d like to draw out seven things we can learn about our creator God from Genesis 1 and see how he is still at work today.
1. He Turns Darkness into Light
“…darkness was over the surface of the deep … And God said, ‘Let there be light’; and there was light.” (Genesis 1:2-3).
Have you ever been out in the countryside, away from any towns or light pollution, on a moonless night with no stars? I mean totally pitch black? So dark that you literally cannot see your hand in front of your face? Scary isn’t it. Every step you take is unnerving because you don’t know where you’re treading next. What ever the mystery of Genesis 1:1, before the uncreated creator created everything out of nothing.’darkness was over the surface of the deep’ Deep isn’t it. That’s also a picture of what so many people’s lives are like. Without the light of God, without His truth, there is just darkness. People don’t know where life is taking them. They don’t know what the future holds. Everything is uncertainty and confusion. Do you remember what it felt like? Waking up in the morning not sure of who you are or why you are here? Searching for meaning and purpose and finding friendships or material acquisition failing to satisfy your deepest needs? Going to sleep feeling desperate loneliness, deep darkness? Imagine what the darkness was like on day one of creation, before God had established a single source of light. Intense darkness. But God spoke into that darkness: “Let there be light”, and all of creation was lit by the power of his word. Light and warmth was everywhere – in an instant! God had to do that in my life. For me it was ironic - I had gone to university to study creation and instead I discovered the creator. The Apostle Paul put it like this in 2 Corinthians 4:6,
“For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” (2 Corinthians 4:6)
I was in darkness – I had no answers, I couldn’t hear God’s voice, I couldn’t grasp right from wrong or discern the wise from the foolish. But God spoke, God called me and everything changed. Night turned to day. You may have loved ones in the same situation. They may have heard the gospel countless times, but they’re still away from God. The fact is, you can put the truth right under their nose but they can’t see it because of the darkness. They need an infusion of God’s light so that they can see it. Don’t try to win by debating and arguing – win it in prayer! Cry out to God until He shines His light into their life and they can see.
You remember the story of the plagues in Egypt? The ninth plague was the plague of darkness. Exodus 10:21-23 says that the darkness was so thick it could be “felt” – it was so intense that no Egyptian moved from their bed for 3 days. But while the Egyptians were in darkness, just down the road the Israelite slaves had light in their dwellings. You know what that tells me? There may be darkness all around – but when God speaks and God commands the light, it shines. True, there are still dark moments in my life as I am sure there are in yours.
This week the tragic scenes from Beslan in Ossetia, from Darfur in Sudan, from Beersheba in Israel left me speechless, at the unspeakable cruelty, the destructive power of raw evil. Where is God’s light in such darkness, such evil and suffering? Other times it’s a decision I need to make and I can’t see which road to take, or sometimes I know the road but don’t want to take it. But as I seek the Lord, His light comes flooding in every time. I open my Bible, and he speaks and brings light. When we invite God into our world, He turns the darkness to light. Secondly, when we bring God into our world …
2. He Turns
Chaos into Order
”And God said, "Let there be an expanse between the waters to separate water from water." So God made the expanse and separated the water under the expanse from the water above it. And it was so. God called the expanse "sky". And there was evening, and there was morning—the second day.” (Genesis 1:6-9)
There’s light now, but still nothing is stable or organized in any way. But God speaks again, and this time separates earth and sky so there is an atmosphere. And then he speaks again, and the great continents of land form from the oceans. God brings everything together to become an ordered environment. That’s the purpose of day 2. Have you ever felt like everything was out of order in your life – like nothing was fitting together properly as it should? When ever I buy something electrical, I can almost guarantee it won’t work. It inevitably goes wrong for me. I’ve heard people say things like: “Nothing ever works out right” or “my personal life’s a mess” or “my career’s in shambles” … “this is not how I planned life to be”.
If that is true for you, then remember there is only one sure way I know to have life move from chaotic to real peace and order. You need God’s creative power. Put your life in His hands, let Him direct you, and obey what He says completely. If He can organize everything from revolving solar systems, right down to microscopic organisms – and have it all working in perfect harmony together – don’t you think He has the power and the wisdom to bring peace into your life? To build the fragments into something that makes sense?
God has a plan and a purpose for your life. A perfect plan. To know him and to make him known. And yet I know Christians who are still chasing their tails – their family life is dysfunctional, their finances are in a mess, they’re in relationship problems, they’re constantly in upheaval. Why? Because they are trying to live life according to their own set of values or fulfil their own selfish desires. And when you’re calling the shots, God isn’t! Don’t be surprised when you feel devoid of His creative power. The good news is that, if we repent of our self-sufficiency and seek God’s wisdom – there is no chaos too great that He can’t turn into order. God brings darkness into light and chaos into order.
3. He Turns
Barrenness into Life
”Then God said, "Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds." And it was so. The land produced vegetation: plants bearing seed according to their kinds and trees bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the third day.” (Genesis 1:11-13)
God has created a stable, organized environment, but nothing is growing yet. There’s no life. Until God speaks with creative power again. Then immediately grass and herbs and fruit trees appear, and begin to flourish. I confess that I am useless in a garden. (In fact worse than useless, I’m a liability!) Two of my fruit trees died this Summer through neglect and the animals and birds got the fruit that did grow. Nothing seems to grow for me … except weeds. Some people could say the same thing about the state of their lives. No matter what they try, nothing grows. Everything seems such a heart-breaking effort. There never seems to be any fruitfulness for all their hard work. We shall learn more about the reason for this in a couple of weeks in Genesis 3.
Jesus said in John 15 that the way to have a fruitful life (a life that is productive, a life that blooms) is to be in union with Him. To be in vital union with Him. God’s power can transform us from barrenness to life but we have to be in union with Jesus. If life seems too hard today, maybe you need to focus on getting closer to Jesus so that God’s creative power can bring life to the barren. When we bring God into our world he turns darkness into light, chaos into order, barrenness into life,
4. He Turns Empty Years into Full Seasons
“And God said, "Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark seasons and days and years, and let them be lights in the expanse of the sky to give light on the earth." And it was so. God made two great lights—the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars. God set them in the expanse of the sky to give light on the earth, to govern the day and the night, and to separate light from darkness. And God saw that it was good.” (Genesis 1:14-18)
However hard it
may be to conceive, before God created the sun, moon and stars, there could be
no fluctuation – no ebb and flow of the tides – no concept of time. Time and
our conception of it are as much a gift of creation as life itself. I hear
people complain about the meaninglessness of life. Some get to the point that
they’re even ready to give up on life – not for it’s hardships, but just it’s
boredom; it’s monotony. They have no purpose. That is what King Solomon found
whenever he looked at life on earth without reference to God. You read his
search in the Book of Ecclesiastes. He says “meaningless, meaningless – life
is meaningless”. It’s all in vain – it’s just the passing of time. Without
God we exist, but nothing more. Only God can turn empty years into full
Despite the weather and we have had a lot of it this August, I love living in England where we enjoy 4 true seasons. We’ve come into Autumn now – we’ll start to see all those beautiful browns and golds – the leaves will start falling from the trees. Then the winter will come. Crisp mornings, cold rains and wind. We’ll rug up and sit in front of log fires. Then we’ll be well and truly ready for the spring. The warmth will start to return – the days will lengthen and everything will burst into bloom again. And finally the Summer. Cool days, balmy nights, and rain - lots of it. The seasons are wonderful, especially when they are differentiated.
I plan to go to San Antonio in Texas in November. The look of relief on the faces of Americans when I tell them I’m going in November suggests it is kind of unwise to go there in Summer. I love the seasons here, despite the rain. My God created that. He hung the stellar bodies in place, he marked out the seasons. Only He can make the days and weeks flow together in rhythm. Only He can put meaning and purpose into life. As Christians we still experience difficult seasons – trials and hardships (there’s the winter as well as the spring). But God makes even those times have purpose. As Paul writes to the Church in Rome, “all things are working together for good for them that love God and are the called according to His purpose.” As you look back on tough times and see what God has done in your life through them, you’re may even come to be glad you went through them.
Our God turns darkness into light, chaos into order, barrenness into life, empty years into full seasons. On day 5, he…
5. He Turns Lack into Abundance
And God said, "Let the water teem with living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the expanse of the sky…." And God saw that it was good. God blessed them and said, "Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the water in the seas, and let the birds increase on the earth." And there was evening, and there was morning—the fifth day. And God said, "Let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds: livestock, creatures that move along the ground, and wild animals, each according to its kind." And it was so. God made the wild animals according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and all the creatures that move along the ground according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good.” (Genesis 1:20-25)
So far there’s
only plant life – the earth has no inhabitants. God speaks again, and the
waters teem with life – every kind of fish and sea creatures. Schools and
schools of millions of species and varieties. The air is filled with birds of
all kinds. Then animals – so many exotic types – they fill the earth. From lack
to abundance by the simple word of God’s mouth. Without God, life is
impoverished. And this has nothing to do with money. You can be the richest
person in Britain – the richest in the world – and have a bankrupt life.
God has caused the waters, and the air, and the land in our world to teem with life. The more I yield to Him, the more His creative power can be active in my life, the more abundance flows through me not to me. Try and catch it and keep it, and like the manna in the wilderness it goes rotten. Doors of opportunity in abundance. Joy in abundance. Revelation and truth in abundance. Wisdom in abundance. These are God’s richest blessings. You know why? Because we get to enjoy them for eternity.
Some people’s world is so small. So confined. They never see the new horizon possible. They need God to speak his kind of abundance into their life. Then and only then can they be truly satisfied. Our God turns darkness into light, chaos into order, barrenness into life, empty years into full seasons, and Lack into Abundance. When we bring God into our world …
6. He Turns Loneliness to Love
”Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground." So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” (Genesis 1:26-27)
creates a human being in His image - and notice the and puts him in the garden,
but as we shall see next week, chapter 2 explains how Adam wasn’t complete. Up
until that point, after every act of creation God’s verdict was “it is good”.
But when He created Adam he said: “it is NOT good” – the creation was
wonderful; Adam was a fine specimen. But it was “not good” that he was alone.
So God created a woman, and brought her to Adam. He saw the need, and He
created the answer by the word of His mouth.
How can you feel all alone among 6 billion people on this planet? People feel lonely every day. People who live in huge cities like London feel isolated and lonely.
But when God is in our world, His creative power can turn loneliness into love. First God filled my longing for love with His own self. Then he gave me Joanna. Then 4 great kids. Some awesome and loyal friends. You and Christ Church family.
He fills my life with love. I don’t deserve it. I cannot earn it. If you are feeling lonely tonight remember he loves you and in what ever your family circumstances, what ever your memories, what ever the condition of your heart, God loves you. Dwell on that unconditional love and let it fill you to the point where your eyes are on others and not yourself. Jesus said,
“Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you." (Luke 6:38)
Our God turns darkness into light, chaos into order, barrenness into life, empty years into full seasons, and Lack into Abundance, Loneliness into Love, and finally, when we bring God into our world,
7. He Turns
Powerlessness into Control
“God blessed them and said to them, "Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground." Then God said, "I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds of the air and all the creatures that move on the ground—everything that has the breath of life in it—I give every green plant for food." And it was so. God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the sixth day.
After God had
created everything, he gave Adam & Eve “dominion” – rule – over all of
creation. He said, “you steward this on my behalf”. What an awesome responsibility
– but they did it. Everything was working. And it was good because everything
was in order under God. As we shall see in a couple of weeks time, things went
wrong because Adam and Eve decided to act independently of God. To choose for
themselves. To control their destiny. Things have not changed much have they?
Our newspapers are full of stories with the same plot or sub-text. People
strive to be in “control” of their lives – to work everything out just as they
think it ought to be – to please themselves. And the result is that their lives
seem to get more and more out of control. And others suffer.
The rest of the Bible (and especially from Genesis 3) explains that Instead of grasping for control – we need to relinquish control to God. To let God be God. To let Him be our Lord and Master. Genesis 1. Seven truths. Our God turns darkness into light, chaos into order, barrenness into life, empty years into full seasons, and Lack into Abundance, Loneliness into Love, and finally, when we bring God into our world, Powerlessness into Control. What a God. He is my God. Is he yours? Lets pray.
with grateful thanks by a sermon by Phil Morgan called “The Creative Power of
God in Your World” available from www.sermoncentral.com